THE Wollongong Bulls look to have quickly bounced back from their nightmare 2004 season when they scored an impressive 20 point win up at Helensburgh on Friday night. Wollongong looked stronger on paper than the Tigers and this was reflected on the scoreboard. The recruitment of veteran Shane Wilson has been a good pickup and he gives their backline direction. Brad Veigel is a good replacement for Trevor Longbottom and the return of Sean Wessels gives their pack a good look.
THE Thirroul Butchers signing of Craig Smith from Wigan has ensured plenty of interest in the approching kickoff of the 2005 season.
THE Illawarra rugby league premiership kicks off on Friday night. The competition is at it's strongest for years, with 2004 premiers Collies defeating Jim Beam Cup side and former Illawarra premiership participants Wentworthville by 48-4 in a trial a few weeks ago.
Collies' main rivals in 2005 look to be Thirroul, Wests and Dapto. Every other club in Port Kembla, Corrimal, Uni, Helensburgh and Wollongong are a genuine finals chance.
THE draw has been released for the 2005 Sports Oxy-shot League Sevens to be held in Wollongong next week.
NOMINATIONS are now closed after Shellharbour Sharks became the 29th side to enter the 2005 Wollongong Sevens. With the Cook Islands entering two senior teams alongside their eighteens, 30 participants will now contest the tournament in the seniors with six in the under eighteens.
NEW Zealand Bartercard Cup team Hibiscus Coast Raiders have entered the Wollongong Sevens. The Raiders had a poor 2004, but their record over the past few years beforehand has been very impressive, winning the Auckland Rugby League's 2nd Division Competition (Sharman Cup) 2001
as well as Bartercard Cup 2001 Champions.
FIJI A has joined Tonga and the Cook Islands in the Wollongong Sevens.